When the helmet of the United States Marine Corp in World War II is discussed it is likely the M1 steel helmet with the famous herringbone twill cover. But in fact this wasn’t the only helmet used by the USMC.
The pressed fiber sun helmet – which was first adopted by the USMC on October 1, 1940 – saw use throughout the Second World War.
Two companies, Hawley Products Company and International Hat Company, manufactured the helmets and more than 100,000 were produced. According to Alec S. Tulkoff in his book Grunt Gear the average price of these was $1.35.
While the pressed fiber helmet saw use by all branches of the military it is most recognized as a helmet of the USMC. In fact, it was widely used as a training helmet while production of the M1 steel helmet was ramped up.
The pressed fiber helmet was actually officially adopted and entered service prior to the M1 helmet, while it remained in service with the US Navy until the 1990s, more than a decade after the M1 helmet was retired from service. This makes the pressed fiber helmet one of the longest serving types of US Military headgear. It saw use in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada and even Desert Shield/Desert Storm.